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Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration Returns After COVID-19 Hiatus

Someone once said, “Be someone’s strength. Be someone’s inspiration. Be someone’s reason to never give up.” While the COVID-19 pandemic changed the trajectory of our normal daily lives, citizens never gave up on those things nearest and dearest to their hearts. Citizens adapted and persevered. For two years citizens were only allowed to participate in virtual celebrations honoring birthdays, anniversaries, and special holidays such as Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebrations, also known as MLK Day celebrations.


Monday, January 16, 2023, citizens were able to celebrate MLK Jr. Day in person and with much exhilaration. Celebrations occurred throughout Montgomery County. The City of Dayton held several events commemorating this very special holiday that brings people from all walks of life, cultures, and nationalities together for a common cause, to promote Dr. King’s legacy, his dream that one day we will have a unified nation where every person regardless of the color of their skin, is treated fairly, equally, and have the opportunity to create sustainable, beloved communities.


The day of celebration also offered the opportunity for citizens to volunteer for a day of service activities such as preparing meals for the hungry, making cards for seniors, cleaning up communities, and packaging self-care kits for people in need and more.


The theme of this year’s celebration was “Is This What We Have Come To?”. Under the leadership of Dr. Anthony B. Whitmore, General Chair MLK Dayton, Inc, citizens attended the following events; Sunday, January 1sst Emancipation Proclamation Program held at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church, 5301 Free Pike, Trot wood, OH 45426, Rev. Father Benjamin E. K. Speare-Hardy II is the Rector. Sunday, January 15th Musical Concert held at Shiloh Baptist Church, 3801 Fairbanks Ave., Dayton, Ohio 45402, Dr. Marcettes L. Cunningham, Senior Pastor. Monday, January 16th MLK March. Citizens assembled at 1323 W. Third St. and marched to Sinclair Community College where they enjoyed presentations by the following local youth groups: Dayton Urban Young Life (under the leadership of Mr. Keith), HYPE (under the leadership of Pastor Charles and Roxanne Smith), Male and Females of Color (under the leadership of Dr. Worley and his team), and YLAG (under the leadership of Mrs. Stroud). The youth attended a showing of the movie “Till” at the Neon theater.


Monday evening, MLK Banquet held at the Royal Banquet Center, 4475 Troy Pike, Dayton, Ohio 45404. The guest speaker was the majestic Mr. Cameron Barnes, National Youth Director, Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Chicago, IL. and Associate Minister at New Faith Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago, IL. Mr. Barnes is a 2020 graduate of Central State University and a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity.


While Mr. Barnes is only 24 years old, he speaks with much wisdom and power. He challenged everyone to seriously contemplate on where they are right now and how they will get to the place of Dr. King’s dream.


Mr. Barnes reminded everyone we are Dr. King’s Joshua. The job for the citizens today is to create a more perfect union of love, peace and justice. In the spirit of love, hope and justice God’s people will see a promise land. He exclaimed, “we must ask ourselves, are we personifying the dream of 1963? Citizens should remember, we are the keepers of the dream, and we must not allow the dream to die”.


There will be a MLK Dayton’s Ministers Worship Service Sunday, January 29th at Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 1900 W. Third St., Dayton, Ohio 45417, Rev. Dr. Junior Greenlee, Pastor.


This article originally appeared on Dayton Weekly News and republished through its partnership with Elevate Dayton.

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